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     September 27,  2015



Residents of Gobor valley demands for re-opening of Durah Pass

By Zahiruddin

CHITRAL: The residents of Gobor valley of Chitral have demanded of the government for opening of Durah Pass (also known as Salim Pass ) which remained a major trade route between Pakistan and Badakhshan province of Afghanistan for more than a decade but closed in the year 2006.

Talking to Chitral Times  here on Sunday, the member of district council from the area, Muhammad Hussain said that it was an all-weather trade routeand had brought prosperity to the local people as it gave employment  to more than ten thousand persons in different forms thereby reducing poverty to a great extent.

Giving a background of the route, he said that it came to be used as trade route in early 1990s after the return of Russian troops from Afghanistan when the jeepable track was extended to the Durrah Pass (14000 feet above sea level) and the commodities of daily use were transported to Badakhshan province through it.

He said that like Torkham border, the Shah Salim area came to be a hub of business activity as a market was established there to deal with the items of daily use which the people of Badakhshan purchased.

Mr. Hussain said that it also served as a trade centre of gem stones and hand-woven woolen carpets and rugs of Badakhshan and many items of dried fruits including almond and pista of superb quality while the volume of trade crossed the figure of billion rupees annually.

He said that the trade route has caused a galore of mutton in Chitral making its availability in lowest possible rate as the Badakhshan province supported a high density of goats and sheep population which the people sold for purchasing items of daily use while livestock keeping is still their major source of sustenance.

Gul Rahman, driver of a taxi jeep, said that the days the route was opened for trade were the golden days of transporter fraternity as they earned a lot by transporting the luggage from Chitral city to the border and Ishkashum and charged exorbitant fares.

Mr. Rahman recalled that the journey was very tough in the dirt and rock-strewn tracks but the high rates of fares lured them to travel to the border of Badakhshan while on their return, their vehicles were loaded with gem stones, carpets or dried fruits.

The route remained the largest source of revenue collection for the district council in the form of octroi tax on the items brought here from Badakhshan which included gem stones, dried fruits, livestock and carpets.

Muhammad Hussain, the district councilor, said that valley of Gobor and its adjacent villages were backward and the residents mired in abject poverty as no substantial farming is possible due to climatic conditions and their condition can be changed for better if the route is reopened and revitalized.

“I will take up the issue vociferously in the floor of district council in its very first session for getting the route reopened for
trade which is in fact the route of prosperity for my constituency in particular and the district in general”, he said.

“The market near Durah Pass once a busy place teeming with both Chitrali and Badakhshi has now reduced to a ruin over the decade of their abandonment and it is my firm resolve to get the route reopened once again and restore the economic edifice of the district”, he said.



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